Footwear and Lower Limb Health

Summary

The project conducts basic research into functional aspects of physical activity requiring support from the lower limb in disease and health and the effect of footwear on efficiency, effectiveness, and injury occurrence in the short and long term and in all populations.

Supervisor(s)

Professor Richard Smith

Research Location

Exercise, Health and Performance Research Group

Program Type

Masters/PHD

Synopsis

During shod walking, the foot and the shoe together provide the interface between the supporting surface and the body, and enable the requisite functions of propulsion, transmission of ground reaction forces, and balance.

  • For children: The impact of the shoes as a critical influence on musculoskeletal health has been neglected. Studies that investigate the effects of footwear on foot biomechanics provide qualitative descriptions of footwear properties. There are limited studies providing quantitative assessment of the functional mechanical properties of footwear, and only one study compares shoe mechanical properties with foot kinematics and kinetics (Oleson et al., 2005). This lack of knowledge has made it difficult to determine if a mechanism exists between footwear design/properties and foot function. No longitudinal studies have been found which investigate the long-term effects of footwear on growth and development. This project will remedy this deficiency and make recommendations for the qualities that should be sought in a child’s shoe designed for everyday use.
  • For active adults: More studies are available that investigate the acute affect of footwear on lower limb function in adults. However, what long term adaptations occur to the wearing of a particular type of footwear has yet to be studied. We hypothesise that generally the midfoot region of shoes is too rigid for the foot to function as it would without shoes. The long term implications of footwear use are unknown.
  • For the symptomatic: (eg functional flat foot, diabetic foot, Marfan syndrome) Individual mechanical reaction to the wearing of orthotics and prosthetics is highly variable. This project aims to establish cause and effect relationships between the anthropometric parameters of the lower limb and the type of footwear intervention so that the intervention can be more tightly prescribed. Parts of this project have substantial support from the Australian Research Council and industry partners.

Additional Information

Experiments designed for this project would be carried out in the world class Biomechanics Laboratory of the Faculty of Health Sciences. Quality human movement data is achieve through the use of a high resolution, 14 camera motion capture system that is synchronized with five force platforms, 16 channel electromyography and numerous custom-built sensors for special purposes.

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Keywords

Walking, running, physical activity, footwear, Biomechanics, injury prevention., Movement disorders, Health & lifestyle, Human body, Movement

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 103

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